Hands up if you work and leave your dog at home by himself during the day….
Have you ever wondered about what they get up to while you’re not there?
I’ve been leaving Boomer, my Cocker Spaniel puppy whose now 11 months old, alone Mon-Fri while I work ever since he was 8 weeks old. I worried a lot about him in those early weeks and I spent a good deal of my time in work A) wishing I was at home cuddling my puppy, B) worrying that my puppy was going to develop separation anxiety and C) thinking that it would be great if I could just check to see if he was doing ok so that I’d feel less guilty for leaving him alone all day.
Then best friend and I came up with a fantastic way of being able to check in on the puppy whenever we wanted to and see what he was doing. All you need is a computer with a webcam, internet access and skype. Yep I use skype to spy on my puppy when he's home alone!
[This is an old photo but here’s little Boomer (whose was about 5 months old at the time) patiently waiting in his bed for me to arrive home at 5pm.]
When he's left alone Boomer has had the same set up since we got him, a crate connected to an exercise pen. Watching him those first few weeks, Boomer was a lot more active during the day – I’d be able to see him chewing up his “indestructible” pee-pee pads (and peeing beside them instead of on them), I’d see him eating and playing with his toys etc. I always knew he was safe and couldn’t get up to too much mischief but I worried about him being bored or lonely etc. Being able to check in on him was a game-changer, I stopped worrying about him and was able to stay focused at work.
I checked in on him quite often when he was younger, then once I knew he wasn’t barking or crying when we left I stopped watching him. Recently though I’ve noticed that he never seems to eat when we’re not there….I’ll give him food and water in the exercise pen but it’s never touched until we come home. So last week I decided to find out he was doing throughout the day. I watched him as we left the house and on the drive to and from work (BF drove) and I checked in for 5 secs every 30-40 mins throughout the day. Here’s what he did….
8.30 - he was closed into the pen, he stood at edge of the pen and watched the door until the car had left our road
8.35 - gave up watching the door, went into the crate and fall asleep
12.00 - sat up and watched door again
12.15 - …..I arrived home for lunch, Boomer runs around the garden, plays fetch, eats, drinks etc
12.50 - closed into crate/pen – sits and watch door
12.55 - gives up watching door and falls asleep
16.55 - sits up and watch door again
17.15 - Home time!
Seriously that’s exactly what he did. Every time I called he was fast asleep. I guess the separation anxiety is just on my end huh!
Checking in on him again though was great because I realised that Boomer doesn’t actually use the pen at all, he doesn't eat, drink or play with toys when he's alone he just sleeps! So I decided to take the pen away and just use the crate – yay for regaining floor space in the living room.
Then I thought why not share with all you doggie people how to do it for yourself.
Here’s how to use skype to check on your dog.
1) Download skype and set up 2 skype accounts, one for you (if you don't already have one) and one for your dog (yep that does sound crazy!). Add each other as contacts.
2) Sign into the dog’s profile on the laptop/computer you’re going to leave at home.
3) Click on Tools and then Options
4) Click on the Sounds tab and then click on the button that says mute all sounds
5) Under the Calls tab and then tick the boxes beside answer incoming calls automatically and start my video automatically when I am in a call
6) Click on the Video settings tab and make sure that you have the webcam set up on the right area you want to watch
7) Click Save
8) It is also a good idea to make sure that your computer will not automatically go to sleep or turn off while you’re gone – this can be done in your control panel/power options. Also mute all sounds on the computer.
Then simply use skype on another device to call your puppy. The call will answer automatically with a video and you'll be able to see and hear your dog. I use my phone and I turn my video and mic off (even though I know he can't hear sounds because I muted the computer...ha ha paranoia!).
Note: The fact that Boomer is kept in a crate/pen is what makes this work really well. If your dog roams the house you’ll have to pick a spot you think your dog spends most of his time in and try, just make sure to keep your laptop safe. It will also give you a very good indication if your dog is barking when you’re not home, even if you can’t see the dog (which is a very handy tool to have in case neighbours ever complain about barking).
So now we can all check in on our puppies!
Linking up with Jackie from Jade and Oak for the Pets are People too link-up :)